Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Walking amongst the brown bears

I walked this lonely road in Denali National Park.
I've just returned from a vacation in Alaska. Wow, it was truly spectacular and awesome. I could post a bunch of photos showing wild animals or natural scenery, but this blog is about fitness, so instead I've inserted a photo of a road I walked and walked and walked in Denali National Park. It was late in the afternoon and evening that I went for a hike by myself. This was brown bear country, so it was reinforced over and over to visitors that one had to be careful not to disturb a bear. People were encouraged to whistle while they hiked, or clap their hands, or attach a bell to their backpack. I didn't want to ruin the silence with such noisemakers, so I compromised and hiked only on the road where a passerby would surely stop and help me if I happened to get mauled by a grizzly. There were few vehicles, and even fewer grizzlies encountered on this hike, so all was well.

I walked 12 miles in 3 hours. I planned to hike one direction for an hour and then turn around and hike back. But after an hour I had not yet reached the alpine tundra landscape that I had seen from a tour bus earlier in the day, so I hiked on until I found it. Then I waved down a park bus and it took me back to the Wilderness Access Center.

I did a lot of walking while on vacation. Over my 8-day vacation, I logged 985 minutes of walking or hiking. This burned an average of 794 calories per day at an intensity of 5.5. This is admirable given that it was a vacation, but not especially high. I did not find the opportunity to do any cardiovascular exercise, nor weight-lifting. Perhaps I would have gone for a run a few times, but the walking tired me out, and my family had other things in mind for the evenings, which often included finding an ice cream shop and trying different flavor cones!

So now I have returned--having gained only 2 pounds from the aforementioned ice cream cones--and I must re-start my exercise program. I will start tomorrow with a swim and hour spent lifting weights.  Or maybe just a half-hour. The important thing I must tell myself, as I try to ramp up the motivation, is to do something rather than nothing. I'll let you know how it goes.

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